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Eight seeking three seats on Symmes Valley board

The candidates running for Symmes Valley Board of Education will tell you, they live in a great school district: Test scores are near the top of the scale and have been for the last several years and this is something the community is proud of.

With three board members choosing not to seek reelection this year, there are three opportunities Tuesday for someone new to join a winning team.

Ryan Sells said he would like to see more transparency and less formality at school board meetings.

He said he would like to see fewer executive sessions and a relaxed attitude toward parents and others who want to address the board. Right now, people who want to speak at board meetings must call the board office head of time and ask to do so.

“I feel, if you have a kid that attends school you have the right to have a discussion with the board,” Sells said.

Like his counterparts, Sells said continuing and improving the successes in the classroom is his top priority.

“Our district is probably one of the best in Lawrence County as far as I’m concerned. We have a lot of personable teachers who take an interest in the kids. That helps a lot. I want to get back to getting an excellent rating as we did in the last,” Sells said.

Finances are another concern. Sells said the district is losing children and if the student population is decreasing, the district may need to decrease staff, although cuts can be an unpopular change. He said his background as a business man would be helpful in this regard.

Hope Rowe said education would be her top priority if she is elected. Like other candidates, she has kids in the district.

“I want to make sure all of the kids get a good education that prepares them for college and for life,” she said.

Choosing a new superintendent may be a task she faces if the sitting board does not make that decision before the new one takes office in January. She wants to find a personable individual who cares about the children and has strong financial skills.

Steve Brown said his years-long involvement with little league and other such activities make him a good candidate for the board.

Brown said he would like to see all staff members have greater input on various concerns and would like to see more community input as well.

“I think we need more input from janitors, cooks, teachers, bus drivers,” Brown said. “And I would like to get the community more involved.”

If the new board has input on choosing a new superintendent, he would like to see someone with strong financial and communications skills who cares about the children.

Brown said he would like to see an effort made to upgrade laboratory and other classroom equipment, if possible.

Chris Thompson was appointed to the board six years ago to replace someone who had moved out of the district. He ran for that seat when the term expired but lost the election.

Thompson said he decided to seek a seat on the board again because he wants to be part of a great school district.

“I want to be part of that team that keeps the best administrators, the best employees the best teachers who in turn produce the best students in Lawrence County,” Thompson said.

Like his counterparts, Thompson said providing a good education and keeping a handle on finances are his two top priorities.

“You have to worry about finances. I think Symmes Valley may be overstaffed. We’ve had buyouts in the last couple of years, retirements. If you get a handle on tha, everything will be alright,” Thompson said.

Greg Ralph said his top priorities are continuing educational successes in the last several years and finances.

“The children are our future,” Ralph said. “Eventually they will be the future leaders of Lawrence County.”

In his candidate questionnaire, Tommy Shepherd said he wanted to work with others in the district to achieve educational excellence in the district.

He said his 25 years of financial and personnel management make him an ideal candidate for the job. He was not immediately available for further comment.

Luther Waugh and Kent Wells were also not immediately available for comment.